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19.11.2019 Feature Article

Comprador Surrogacy

Comprador Surrogacy
NOV 19, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

It's been almost a quarter century of glorious free media. Pity the ranking just slipped; obviously due to shameful physical abuse of journalists. Insidious, though, is the abuse of content. It's like Kwame Nkrumah's economic comprador class which frustrates Africa's economic independence, a la PDS! I want to talk media surrogacy. By it, a section of the Ghanaian media amplifies messages initiated by foreigners to undermine national development. It's sneaky when the foreign is framed as fighting corruption when it rather, 'inadvertently,' destroys our institutions.

That isn't what the media freedom fighters fought for. They fought for our truth to be told at all times; not others' lies masked as 'universal' truths. And they never fought for the press to be used to trample under foot, what we build with our hands. They fought for the truth to be told to facilitate our collective effort to make things better for ourselves; to improve our living conditions; to deepen and purify thinking that would direct beneficial actions.

So imagine the one who created the culture of silence in our motherland, praising a colonial vestige such as the BBC for undermining our leading academic outfit. In his usual akpatsɛ (pretender) popularity-seeking ways, he claimed his daughter suffered from 'sex for grades' discrimination, only to quickly demand a retraction when a newspaper reported that false assertion.

I have read a whole foreign page of a national newspaper with its entire number of stories all credited to BBC. That is agency reporting and not critical, enterprise journalism. Once, GTV carried cameras and journalists to cover the Liberian civil war only to return to broadcast CNN footage. I have heard a television newscaster in this motherland read: 'Liberia, a country in West Africa' as news! What could be our best have moved from externally enforced censorship to intimidated self-censorship anchored in self-preservation.

Years ago, UNESCO fought to address 'international news flow' imbalances by which Africa was being negatively portrayed (like the BBC 'sex for grades' sham investigative piece). Its target was to achieve a New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO). Our own GNA was founded to counter the foreign news misrepresentations of Africa. As UN chief, Kofi Annan garnered resources to close the digital divide to empower us, the information poor, to become information rich. Our media should measure themselves by that. They should aggressively do the brand of journalism that says, 'Africans need to overcome their low self-esteem;' not token: 'I'm Black, and I'm proud.'

They should avoid cultivating the mindset of 'most of our compatriots are always stealing but none gets caught.' That sounds defeatist. Let's find means of consistently and progressively catching the thieves methodically instead of aiming at the illusion of catching everyone at once. The latter spreads effort too thin. Some media sections seem naively too glad to amplify foreigners' denigration of us and our motherland on a self-destructing mission.

A university is defined by the quality of its grades. The grade is sacred; it is everything. You touch it the wrong way, you devalue it, and by that you destroy the entire university system. Architects of the 'sex for grades' documentary knew that. That's why it was their focus instead of the social evil of 'sexual harassment,' which is actually what they found evidence of.

Once, a media house was promoting the reading of 'Pocahontas' and '101 Dalmatians;' implicitly downgrading Meshack Asare and others' children's books and leaving them to gather dust. Kum Kum Bagya shouldn't thrive while Jakpa, Anowa, Anawoma and other epic local literary works die. Even money-seeking owners will lose in the long run. We must sit up, because we're lying down as sleeping dogs for others to trample over us as they have been doing to different degrees since 1471. If what we can do is to be surrogates for others propagating their culture and ideology which often denigrates our own for the sake of making money and providing jobs, we are just cutting our nose to spite our face.

Someone whose commitment to improving the lot of girls and women I acknowledge with pride protested that I am not anti-sexual harassment. I requested another tried and tested feminist in programmes and scholarship: 'Please tell me if the feminist brigade in Ghana is right to descend on me for my write-up in the Daily Guide.' Her reply was: 'Well, you know the feministas will not be paying attention to nuance, so I'm not surprised your write-up did not go down well…'

She continued: 'I see the point you were making, although in some places the language is perhaps a bit strong. And in an environment of reasoned debate, your argument would be in order and could generate constructive conversations; but in general I don't think feminist-oriented folk are inclined to examine such comments holistically. They would probably only see the parts they interpret as you defending a broken system. Sorry… I hope that storm is over soon.' Hmmmmm.

By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh

Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh
Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh, © 2019

The author has 133 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwasiAnsu-Kyeremeh

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